M1223 Nicholas(1720-1758) & Frances (Morton)

MeriRep:Meriwether (Cowgill) Schmid

Book Project:Not yet assigned.

Metrics:One spouse, 3,292 descendants and in-laws.

Biographical Sketch:

Nicholas Meriwether, b. Feb. 11, 1719/20, d. May 3, 1758. He m. Frances Morton about 1740. After his death she married Samuel Pryor. Frances Morton was listed as "Mary Frances Pryor" in Louisa H. A. Minor's genealogy in 1892. I cannot account for the Mary—but Miss Minor had given her the "Pryor" name as an understandable con- fusion of the records furnished her by members of the family in Maryland—who had not made clear that as the widow of Nicholas Meriwether (1719-1758) she had married Samuel Pryor Aug. 27, 1760. He died July 26, 1765. She was a sister of Joseph Morton and a half-sister of John Morton Jordan. Frances Morton by her marriage to Nicholas Meriwether had eight children, and by her second marriage she had one son. There is evidence that the estate she inherited from her husband Nicholas Meriwether was dissipated, as well as her inheritance from her half-brother John Morton Jordan. Later in life a trust fund was established by her Meriwether children for her support. From some sources in Kentucky it is asserted that Frances (Morton) Meriwether, as Mrs. Samuel Pryor, lived in Kentucky for a short period, but this has not been substantiated. However, it is certain that some of her grandchildren did settle in Kentucky, after the ill-fated attempt of her son George to emigrate to that state.

This Nicholas Meriwether had an interesting military career in the French and Indian Wars ("The Seven Years' War," or "The War of the Spanish Succession," or coin your own expression to suit the occasion). According to family history, there were two men named Nicholas Meriwether with General Braddock near present-day Pittsburgh (Ft. Duquesne) when that ill-fated general decided to resplendently array himself in a decorated red coat on the field of battle, making himself an even easier target for the redskins. Contrary to the advice given him by Indian-wise colonists, who were serving as aides and soldiers, he persisted in displaying a general's sartorial accouterments, to his undoing on July 9, 1755. It is too bad that the general was not familiar with fifth grade American history! Still recounting family history, Nicholas Meriwether (b. 1719) was along on the expedition with another Nicholas Meriwether (1736-1772) who was his nephew, a son of Thomas Meriwether. Down through the years the descendants of the younger Nicholas have claimed the honor for him of having borne the fatally wounded General Braddock off the field and to have received the red coat—from the General!

It was with some small shock to learn in 1962 that Nicholas—the uncle of my Nicholas—had descendants who claimed both the honor and the red coat. Mrs. Harry H. Vaughan (Margaret Pilcher) wrote me, sending along a note written by Mrs. Bessie Vaughan Baker, of Marshall, Missouri (1957), saying: "Grandfather Vaughan (Richard Cocke Vaughan) wrote this little sketch on the flyleaf of an old book, and I found it and copied it." The writing in the old book by R. C. Vaughan stated:

In 1754, during the French and Indian Wars, Braddock was Major General and was in America with 2000 British troops. They reached the Monongahela River in July 1755, forded the river twice, and were attacked by the French and Indians at Fort Duquesne. They were surrounded by the enemy, and after two hours of fighting, the remnants of the British Army had to retreat. General Braddock had four horses shot from under him, and, while trying to rally his men, he was mortally wounded. Washington was the only member of his staff uninjured; 477 men were killed or wounded. General Braddock fell into the arms of one of his staff—Colonel Nicholas Meriwether, who was my great-great grandfather. He came home, and General Braddock's sister, Lady Braddock, presented Col. Meriwether with a scarlet coat embroidered in gold as a token of regard. This was a relic and a curiosity, and was held in great veneration by the Meriwether family for many generations. Colonel Meriwether's son-in-law, Shadrach Vaughan, who was my great-grandfather, was one of Braddock's assistants, and for his services he received a grant of 6000 acres of land in Kentucky and Virginia. A lot of land patents signed by King George and also by Thomas Jefferson, Governor of Virginia when the patent was issued, were no good.

Braddock was a brave man, but was called "foolhardy." The name on his land patent was signed by his guardian.

Signed: R. C. Vaughan, a descendant of Shadrach Vaughan.

The R. C. Vaughan who wrote the above account was Richard Cocke Vaughan, of Lexington, Missouri. He was born in Goochland Co., Va., July 30, 1813 and died in Lexington, Mo. Dec. 8, 1888. He was Brigadier General commanding the Tenth Military District of Missouri during the Civil War. He was the son of Nicholas Meriwether Vaughan and Anne Randolph Pleasants.

The land grant Shadrach Vaughan mentioned above was signed by Thos. Jefferson Oct. 17, 1779 "according to the terms of the King of Great Britain's Proclamation of 1763"—evidently a confirmation of ownership under the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was sold in 1803 for the sum of $20,000.00 to Robert Carter Harrison.

Not a great deal remains to be said, other than to recount that the Vaughan ancestor has done his part to set their record straight, which is good Democratic doctrine! It should be noted further that the Nicholas Meriwether who provided the daughter Mary who married Shadrach Vaughan, was born 1719 and thus was thirty-six years old in 1755. My ancestor—the nephew Nicholas Meriwether—was born 1736 and was nineteen at the time of the set to at Ft. Duquesne. At this late date I will await with studied demeanor a release of the "White Paper" by the ever-alert British government, giving the names of those at the engagement in 1755.

Nicholas Meriwether and his wife Frances were of record in Louisa Co. Deed Book "D"—May 1, 1755, pp. 38-41: [Very long deed] . . . "Nicholas Meriwether, Gent'l., of Parish of St. Paul, County of Hanover, and Frances, his wife, with Henry Davis of Parish of St. Martin's to Charles Palmer of Parish of St. John, County of King William, for 17, 5 s., 362 acres in Fredericksville Parish, Louisa County [etc., described].

Signed: Nicholas Meriwether, Gent'l., Frances Meriwether, Henry (X) Davis.

Witnesses: James Maury, Ben Brown, John Hawkins."

Note the following deed from Louisa Co. Deed Book "B"—26 Aug. 1755, p. 265: "Nicholas Meriwether of County of Hanover, Gent'l., and Frances, his wife, for 300, to John Moor 1,720 acres in Louisa County [described].

Signed: Nicholas Meriwether, Frances Meriwether.

Witnesses: Robert Jennings, Bartelot Anderson, John Woodall, Richard Foster."

Thus between May 1 and Aug. 26, 1755, Nicholas Meriwether had to make a hurried trip to Ft. Duquesne and return to Louisa County, Va. I am willing to wager only that he had a fast horse! (NHM)

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